By Daniel R. Mahanty

On June 1, the U.S. Defense Department (DoD) submitted to Congress its report on the more than 500 civilians it estimates were killed and injured in U.S. military operations in 2017—as required by Section 1057 of the National Defense Authorization Act(NDAA) of 2018. Despite several limitations and gaps in civilian casualty reporting (for example, it doesn’t cover strikes by the CIA or other agencies), the Pentagon’s report is in some respects a step forward from prior U.S. government disclosures on civilian casualties, for example by providing country-specific information and data on injuries, and is an important sign of the Pentagon’s commitment to release such data on an annual basis. As two of the authors explained in a report released last year, the release of more detailed information on civilian casualties helps the public to meaningfully assess the true costs of U.S. operations abroad and provides some basic recognition of the harm suffered by those injured and families of those killed.

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